Monday, 30 July 2012

A Baby Blanket for a very special baby

There are loads of things I have been looking forward to about my trip "home" to Canada...but I have to say that the thing..or event...I have been looking forward to the most is seeing my friend's big pregnant belly.  When they told me they were expecting...and I realised I would be able to see them before the due date...I immedietly set to work making a special present.
I decided to knit a baby blanket in the classic Hudson's Bay Company stripe pattern.  As a wedding present my brother gave us a double sized wool HBC Point Blanket and it is one of my most favourite is my little bit of Canada in the United Kingdom, it ties me to home.  Eventhough my friends are in Canada I thought that it would be a special keepsake. 

The finished blanket.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

It's the little things...the local diner

The local diner is an a good cafe or chippy back in the UK  here in North America you can judge a community based on its Diner.  Huntsville has a couple of decent local greasy know places where you can get an all day breakfast, a grilled cheese and pretty much everything comes with the question "and would you like fries with that?".  It is pretty much my idea of heaven.  On Tuesday my parents and I walked over to Family Place Restaurant  on the main street just over the bridge...close. 

A good selection of jams, honey and peanut butter on the table sure made me happy and temporarily swayed me towards the all day breakfast.  Choices choices...always tough to make...but I did manage in the end.   

Actually,  choosing my drink was no had to be a large glass of chocolate milk.  The waitress didn't seem to think that it was an odd request coming from a 30-something gal...I'm sure she gets it all the time. Chocolate milk is a diner staple. 

The place was hopping with folk, mostly local I would guess.  In the end I went for the Ruben...rye bread stacked high with smoked meat, saurkraut and ruben sauace and smothered in cheese.  Fries were, of course, with that...and a heap of dill pickles.  The extra special addition, also a diner staple, was gravy on the side (for the fries). 

yum yum and yum

Monday, 23 July 2012

It's the little things...early morning baking

The town where my parents live played host to a major triathalon on Sunday.  All the action took place, literally, on our door step...which was awesome.  What was not awesome was the MC for the day kicking everything off over the loud speaker at 6am. 

Wide awake with things to do (family meal planned for the evening) mum and I got down to business...the business of pie.  When my brother and I both planned trips to visit our parents at the same time my mum asked us to make a list of things we would like her to know, things from our childhood...things we can't really get where we are in the world...favourites.  We both had Sour Cream Peach Pie at the top of our respective lists. 

This pie is incredible.  Ripe peaches slathered in a sour cream and sugar mixture and topped with a strusel topping.  Once the pastry is made, and the peaches are peeled the pie comes together really quickly.  My smartie pants mum had made the pastry the night before so we took advantage of the early morning wake up call to get the pie into the oven...not only to get it baked before the heat of the Muskoka sun was upon us but also because this pie tastes so much better cold...from the fridge. 

Summer on a plate.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

It's the little things...a taste of "home"

I've hightailed it out of the UK to the sunnier weather in Central Ontario...I can't actually claim this to be an impromptu holiday...but it is sure a welcome one! Three whole weeks in sunny Canada at my parents' new abode in the gorgeous town of Huntsville in the heart of Cottage Country.  This is Canada at its best...heat, nature, cold drinks and the lake. 

Since my poor pale skin is aclimatised to Edinburgh's recent dreary weather I haven't ventured far off the covered portch the last couple of days...and when I did my poor brother took pity on me and bought me a popsicle to cool me down (I was literally melting on main street). 

I need to build up a tolerance to the burning sun, as well as the heat.  And the best way to do that is to...obviously...indulge in all the classic canadian treats I can.  I need to renew the Canadian in me.  First step to this is drinking Tim Hortons coffee and eating as many sour cream glazed doughnuts I can stuff in my face.  The second is to try as many different brands of Butter Tart I can get my hands on in Huntsville.  I started with a mass produced number from a local supermarket, enjoyed with a cup of tea and a cook book on the porch.  It was good as supermarket butter tarts go.  The filling was thick...with a decent number of raisins.  The pastry was alright. 

The thing about butter tarts is that everybody has a different recipe...and everbody has a different idea of what consitutes the perfect butter tart.  The filling can be thick or runny, with or without raisins or nuts, the pastry cane be thick or many different opinions and options.  I am partial to a runny filling but not fussy about raisins or nuts, and as long as the pastry is short I am happy (I can forgive a soggy bottom). 

A friend of my mum's came to visit today and brought us a pack of butter tarts from Baysville, a town not far from Huntsville.  The pastry was pale, but the filling was perfectly sweet, runny and not a raisin in sight! The difference between these handmade tarts and the store bought ones are immedietly apparent...but I'd happily eat either. 

Two butter tarts and a doughnut in my belly...with Tim Hortons coffee now flowing through my veins I think I am just about ready to brave the sun. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

An East Anglia more for the road

On our last day in Cromer the rain was heavy...we had a few errands to run around town and some food to pick up so when the clouds parted we made our move.  We hadn't planned on stopping for a treat but the rain held off for longer than expected.  

We popped into Dudley's Bakery behind the church. This wasn't our first visit...the bread is pretty good, especially the Norfolk Crunch, and the pasties and sausage rolls are pretty much our lunch staples when visiting Cromer...but this was the first time I had bought anything sweet.  There were plenty of choices, including individually wrapped victoria sponge slices...but in the end I decided to go for a strawberries and cream tart.  

Back home, with a cup of tea and the rain pouring down I tucked into my little treat.  

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

An East Anglia Cake-ation...Cake with a View

Fellow Cake Lady Sophia, who moved back to Canada last month, runs a great website called Cake With a View.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity of taking a snap of  "cake with a view" for her website while we were in Cromer.  

Carrot Cake from Waverley Cake Shop with the Cromer Pier in the background...what a view! 

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

An East Anglia Cake-ation...Huckleberries

I am spoiled for choice when it comes to cake in Cromer.  There are at least 5 decent cake shops within spitting distance of the house we stay in...and they all offer homemade cakes.  I like to try to visit them know...share my support. One of my favourites is Huckleberries on Church Street.

Not only are the coffee and cakes good here, but the staff is friendly and they have wifi.  I've been a few times with my dad to have a coffee and check the old email, and it has always been busy.  There are a few seats in the windows on the main level, but there is also a large seating area downstairs.  

This trip we were only interested in cake...cake to take home and devour while watching a dvd and drinking tea.  The selection was good...different cupcakes, tray bakes, brownies and danish pastries.  Everything looked fresh, and it was hard to decide...but in the end I chose the gingerbread with lemon icing and David had a brownie.  

With cakes in hand we dashed home avoiding the puddles and snuggled up for a Jason Bourne-a-thon. Perhaps I needed slightly more cake for a 3 disc movie session...lesson learned.  The cake I did have, however, was light and very gingery...the brownie was gobbled up within seconds of the photoshoot.  

Monday, 16 July 2012

An East Anglia Cake-ation...celebrating wimbledon

I am just back from spending a lovely week at the seaside...and despite the was just that...lovely.  We stayed in Cromer on the North Norfolk Coast, and pretty much spent our days avoiding the rain, pottering about, going on longer hikes (when the skies looked promising), sitting on the beach, and searching out cake.  It was perfect...

Some friends came to say with us for a couple of nights, and seeing as they had a car (we are slaves to public transport) we ventured further Holkham Hall.  The house was great and the weather held up for most of our trip but the main attraction for me (of course) was the cafe.  

I snapped a few pictures when we first arrived (before going through the house) and hatched a plan with our friends to come back after wandering around the house to collect some goods to take home with us for lunch.   

We took our time and wandered around the house...unfortunately time got away from see there was the little matter of the Men's Final at Wimbledon that day...and there just wasn't quite enough time to potter around the grounds before making our drive back to Cromer.  We did, however, have time for the gift shop (of course) and a quick dash into the cafe to collect some scones, and a Bray's Cottage Pork Pie to take away.  

The scones were a good size and tasted great but the fabulous extra touch was the availability of clotted cream in individual containers to take away.  I am a total greedy guts when it comes to clotted cream and had some trouble rationing the amount I had...luckily David had some leftover...but other than that I can easily declare these the perfect treat for a damp Wimbledon final in front of the tv. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Royal Scone...and some naughty treats for the road

Taking advantage of the seemingly dry weather yesterday my friend and I pottered down to Leith to take in the sights of the Royal Yacht Britannia.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't been to visit before, but was so glad to share the experience with her.  

The Gorgeous Britannia (so shiny) 

We were really fortunate with the weather, and the sun actually peeked out from behind the clouds for a decent period of time.  The top deck of the yacht has been turned into a tea room...serving sandwiches, soups, salads and a selection of cakes...we decided to take a break in our tour for something to eat. We both ordered scones and tea...I was a bit disappointed that they didn't offer a proper afternoon tea (sandwiches, scones, cakes) but having read that the scones were baked on board the yacht I was happy with my selection.  

The scones were generous and fresh...and the tea was refreshing.  We sat looking out over Leith harbour and chatted the time away.  The weather held up and we finished our tour of the yacht (it was awesome I highly recommend it) and I suggested that we take a little potter along the Shore.  

I hadn't planned on taking my friend into Mimis Bakehouse but when I saw the blue sign I just had to walk in the doors.  My friend went snap happy while I chose some treats for the road (well for after dinner with a cup of tea).  Another lovely day out seeing the sights and eating cake for lunch!

Malteser Slice and Rocky Road Blondie

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A Cake Break at lovecrumbs

My best friend from Canada is visiting this week.  For months we have been planning her visit, and for the last couple of months I have be dying to take her to lovecrumbs.  Yesterday morning, over tea and toast, we planned our day....walk up to Calton Hill and take in the views of the city (slightly overcast day, no rain...) and then make our way over to the Royal Mile en route to Cake.  We spent longer than anticipated on the hill (mostly since it was clear enough for a really good view of everything) so at Noon-ish I turned to her and said...It's Cake O'Clock...and cake is waaaaay over there (pointing).  We booted it over into old town and down into the Grassmarket...we'll come back and walk the mile afterwards I told her...up onto the West Port and into the lovely lovecrumbs.  

The wardrobe was stocked with cakes galore, scones, brownies and a huge crate of gigantic meringues.  My friend stood in awe...I know, I said.  

It was, as usual, hard to decide what to order...chocolate tarts, caramel tarts, rose and juniper (!!) cake...

chocolate cake...

In the end we chose lemon and rosemary and banana peanut butter.  I had the perfectly lovely lemongrass and marigold tea and my friend had a cappuccino made with soya milk.  We chatted about this and that and oooohhhhhed and awwwwwed over the cakes, and the atmosphere and the sweet little girl banging on the drum table.  I love taking people to lovecrumbs for their first really is like no other cake experience in Edinburgh.

Afterwards...with full cakey bellies...we walked the mile down to Holyrood to watch all the fancy dresses making their way into the Queen's Garden Party.  A wonderful day.  

Monday, 2 July 2012

Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe #18...Something a Little Different

I've been away from the Random Recipe Scene for the last couple of months.  I have no excuse, I have just plum forgot...twice! I vowed to get back into the game for July when Dom tweeted the June round up...and so here it is: 

This month we have been challenged with something a little show each other our cookbooks. Despite having a gorgeously huge kitchen (please don't hate me) there are no shelves for my cookbooks...grrrrrrrrrr (we rent so this is not easily remedied). Because of this my cookbooks are split between trolly sideboard thing...and a space I have claimed on the countertop.  

There is no strict cataloguing system...things just go where they go.  If I pull a bunch of books out there is a good chance they won't go back to the stack they came from...but because I don't have all that many books I can usually find what I am looking for.  I have way too many Jamie Oliver books, not enough Nigella and (sadly) no Hugh.  Ottolenghi has to go on the wooden unit cause he is too big to sit on the countertop, and the newest requisitions are always near the top of the counter pile.  

I love cookbooks but have to stop myself from buying them (or taking them to bed to read...I was crushed by 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down and Eat last year) unless I really really NEED it.  I've been taking out loads from the library recently and copying out the recipes I want to try...and I've actually found that there is really only a handful of recipes in most books that I want to try. Of course there are some exceptions, like Short and Sweet and my recent gift Nordic Bakery Cookbook, but for the most part I'm beginning to question to cost of some books.  I'm also bookmarking a lot of recipes from the internet (many from books I think I'd like to buy) and slowly working my way through. 

Saying all that I do have a cookbook wish list...I can't help it. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Middle Eastern Supper Club @insideoutchef

I'm beginning to wonder what I did before I met the Cake Ladies.  Recently it has seemed like every week I am off at some event with one or more of them.  Last night was no a group of us descended on Insideout Chef's Supper Club.

Watermelon and Dukkah

We were greeted by Wendy and her husband, Ian, and offered a refreshing watermelon drink and canapes of pesto palmiers and chunks of watermelon served with a Dukkah dip (toasted and finely chopped nuts and spices).  The watermelon with dukkah was amazing, I had never tasted anything like it.  

We sat down to an amazing mezze platter of dips, salads, stuffed vine leaves and lamb meatballs.  In all honestly I could have just grazed away on the mezze all night (there was loads of it) and had to keep reminding myself that there were more courses to follow (not that that stopped me from overloading on hummus and labna). 

Mezze Platter

After the mezze there was a soup course of chickpea and lentil soup, which was very warming, and then we were served the main course of chicken tagine, couscous and a salad.  After a short break the pudding arrived...sticky orange cake with an awesome pistachio topping, served with an orange and date salad.  

The evening was lovely, the food...the company...the setting...everything.